Singaporeans Refused To Pay for PAP Propaganda So LHL Will Now Use Your Taxes To Corruptly Keep His Government in Office
Singaporeans have been forced for decades to pay for the privilege of being forced to consume PAP fake news, disinformation and brainwashing. After Lee Kuan Yew shut down the last few independent media outlets in Singapore in the early 1970s, most notably The Singapore Herald, the Government imposed an effective state media monopoly buttressed by the Newspapers and Printing Presses Act (NPPA), which created a new class of management share comprising at least 1% of the share capital.
The management shares had to be held by persons approved by the Government and the Government could order their transfer from one holder to another at any time. They gave the holders the power to remove a director, editor, journalist or indeed any staff member who did not do what the Government wanted because, while they were in all other respects identical to the ordinary shares, they had 200 votes to the ordinary shares’ one in the case of a vote to remove any employee or director. If it so desired, the Government could use its control of the management shares to remove anyone they did not like more or less immediately since the Act said a meeting had to be called ASAP if 25% of the management shares requested it.
This power allowed the Government to put its own candidate in charge of SPH and its predecessor, Straits Times Press, such as the late President Nathan, formerly head of the Internal Security Department (ISD). It also meant that all media in Singapore were effectively state media, since MediaCorp, with its radio and TV channels, was 100% owned by Temasek.
With a monopoly over newspapers and no internet, Singaporeans were forced to buy SPH’s (and MediaCorp’s) mixture of prurience and propaganda at premium prices ensuring high profitability. American author Paul Theroux famously described the Straits Times as only good for use as toilet paper. LKY no doubt loved the fact that Singaporeans were being made to pay to read fake news, propaganda and disinformation and defamation against his opponents. Advertisers had no alternative but to advertise in these state media mouthpieces if they wanted to reach a Singaporean audience.
However even a monopolist cannot force people to buy his products if there is an alternative or if the product is not a necessity. The advent of the internet meant Singaporeans could get their information from other sources and also meant advertisers were able to use other channels such as Google and Facebook. The result was that Singaporeans voted with their wallets to stop paying the Government for the privilege of reading a constant stream of propaganda, hagiography and fake news, dumbed down to the intellectual level of a five year old, designed to keep Lee Hsien Loong and the PAP Government in office and both denigrate their opponents and deny them any coverage. The State Times and its other stable mates’ circulation declined so precipitously that SPH, as a listed company with shareholders, would be obliged to close them down.
If the PAP Government really cared about quality journalism and providing news that was objective, impartial and trustworthy, then it would repeal the NPPA and allow independent media to replace the unloved state media mouthpieces. But of course it will not do that because having a monopoly on the Mainstream Media and controlling what the majority of Singaporeans think and how they vote is vital to allowing LHL and his cronies to continue in power and continue paying themselves, their spouses and relatives billions over the decades out of state funds.
So instead of allowing the State Times and its stablemate PAP propaganda rags to close, LHL’s Government has hit on what it thinks is the brilliant idea of having Singaporeans pay directly to ensure their continued monopoly on power and state resources through the hiving off of SPH’s media assets into a Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG) structure which then may receive Government funding directly. Putting the word “Trust” in the name of the CLG is an obvious and not very clever attempt to continue the gaslighting of Singaporeans. Just because LHL and state media have anointed themselves as “trusted” media does not make it so,
Neither do references to the BBC Charter as a model for SPH Media Trust though the Government obviously feels that the BBC model of funding through licence fees is how they will channel state funds to their cronies to help keep them win elections. The BBC Board is required to be independent as part of the BBC Charter and the public can complain to the BBC about bias. If they feel their complaint has not been addressed they can complain to the regulator Ofcom, which unlike IMDA is really independent of the Government. Both Conservative and Labour Governments have frequently complained of bias which suggests that the balance is probably about right.
Unlike the BBC Charter the charter governing SPH Media Trust has not been made public and there appear to be no safeguards to prevent it continuing to function as the advertising arm of the PAP. This is illustrated by the Government’s appointment of an ex-PAP minister, Khaw Boon Wan, as Chairman and the former CEO of Straits Times Press, Patrick Daniel (who shares the dubious distinction, like Tharman, of having a conviction for breaching the Official Secrets Act) as the new CEO.
Singaporeans should need no reminding of the role state media have played as a propaganda mouthpiece for the PAP and LKY and his son, continually printing lies and false information about the Opposition, from the infamous claims that the Workers Party, under my late father before it was “captured” for the PAP by Low Thia Kiang, Sylvia Lim and Pritam Singh, had received $600,000 from abroad just before the 1972 election to the partisan front page of The New Paper put out before the 1997 GE warning voters what they would suffer if they went against the PAP’s wishes and elected JBJ in Cheng San. I remember a serious front page article in the State Times fantasizing about a scenario in which a minority race Opposition leader (a thinly disguised attempt to smear JBJ) mounted a coup and seized power before being unseated with the help of US forces and executed. To call state media “objective” is the same Newspeak as the Ministry of Truth in Orwell’s 1984.
The PAP have long justified their control of state media and its use as a powerful tool to keep themselves in power as being in the public interest, which they get to define, and necessary to prevent foreign interference in Singapore’s politics and communal politics. But this is of course pure humbug. Calling a spade a spade, it is nothing but corruption, particularly as absolute power has allowed both LHL and his son to amass vast fortunes, mostly through their spouses, Mrs Lee as head of Lee and Lee which had almost a monopoly on HDB conveyancing and Ho Ching as former head of Temasek on a salary so embarrassing that the Government will go to any lengths to stop Singaporeans finding out.
In Austria the Chancellor, Sebastian Kurtz, was forced to resign after he was investigated for using public funds as payoffs to pay off pollsters and journalists. The former Israeli PM, Benjamin Netanyahu, is facing similar charges of trading preferential treatment for an Israeli telecoms company in return for positive coverage on its news site. Netanyahu is described by his aide as a “control freak” which would be an even more apt description of LHL and his dad. Instead of having to make bargains with independent newspapers and TV stations, they just took them over and used them to ensure they stayed in power, firing journalists who they did not like, vetting their articles and ensuring that no unscripted questions were ever allowed.
A recent tweet by Reporters Without Borders, though about Greece not SIngapore, has highlighted another aspect of this corruption, namely the use of state advertising money to ensure favourable coverage in foreign media. The PAP has restricted the circulation of foreign media if they write articles that criticise their policies or leaders. I assume that state advertising money for Singapore GLCs, like Singapore Airlines, has not been given to publications that criticise them and that this has a lot to do with the sycophantic coverage accorded to LHL and the hagiographic adulation given to his dad.
SIngaporeans should not be fooled. SPH Media Trust is just a continuation of LHL’s and his father’s before him, corrupt use of public money to boost his image and gaslight Singaporeans through propaganda, fake news and disinformation while denigrating his opponents and providing a false narrative of the PAP leadership’s supposed indispensability for Singapore’s survival. This has enabled him to continue earning millions, hide the assets his family has accumulated and shield his wife from having to disclose how much she has been paid out of state funds. As Locke said, using absolute power for profit is not only corrupt but the essence of tyranny.